A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Fun Disaster

I work with a CBO (Community Based Organization) called Gayaza Christian Caring Community (GCCC) that has 6 main focuses: Functional Adult Literacy (FAL), Widows, Community Health Volunteers, Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Pastoral Care and Education For Life (Life Skills workshops and training). I’ve worked most closely with the Community Health Volunteers, the Functional Adult Literacy class and most recently the Widows group. Last week the FAL class invited me to come and teach them how to bake.
What ensued over a 4.5 hour span was a very fun disaster. The lady in charge of bringing the over-ripe bananas brought over-ripe matooke (plantains). Then half the group didn't bring the required sagiri (charcoal cooker) and pots so we had to bake in shifts. Also, only one person brought a mixing bowel so we had to use the pots as mixing bowels, then put the batter on the table, wash the pots, then put it all together to bake. Of course no one had utensils so we were mixing with our hands. Throughout the whole time (3:30 pm - 8 pm!) the group was laughing and joking with me, something most Ugandans have a hard time with. They're humor is so different than ours.

One of the things I love about this component of GCCC is that they really try and focus on functional learning. The students are all ages, mainly women since they tend to be the ones who were not educated. Quite a few of them work in the market so the teachers have focused their lessons on functional English that will help them first in their work places. They add activities that will force them to practice their English but also to gain a new skill that can enhance their work. A few months back another PCV came and taught them how to grow mushrooms. The women grew them and sold them at their stalls in the market. Now they are able to continuing growing, eating and selling mushrooms. Doing this baking class, the students took down the recipe in English, practiced greeting me and attempted to understand my directions. They still have a long way to go with their English skills so a translator was used but even with the translator our conversations and jokes transcended.

Ugandans begin toughing hot sauce pans and pots from a very early age and build up tough calluses that make them immune to burning hot objects. I, on the other hand, was always taught to use pot holders. During our baking time I would check on the breads and lift the top pot off using a towel. Each time I did this the women would fall into fits of laughter. "Oh Amanda is too delicate. She must use a towel," to which I replied in Luganda, "Ugandans are so tough! They handle fire with their hands!" I personally didn't think this was so funny but each time it sent my friends into peels of laughter. As we were finishing up they asked if I'd come the next day and teach them to make yeast bread. I thought that would be pushing it, at least for me, so I said I'd come next month. Now, I have a disaster of sorts to look forward to.

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